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Alumni Experiences

Alumni Reconnect at Seventh Annual SOA Conference

Nearly three hundred attendees convened in Provo for a weekend of networking and reconnecting at BYU’s seventh annual School of Accountancy conference held on 14–16 November 2019 in the Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center on the campus of BYU.

Networking between alumni and students occurred at the conference
Networking between alumni and students occurred at the conference.
Photo Courtesy of SOA Marketing.

“The annual SOA conference continues the tradition of bringing our alumni back to campus to have them mentor our students, gain professional development, reconnect with fellow classmates, as well as have their families enjoy the BYU atmosphere,” says SOA alumni director Jennifer Maroney, who coordinated the conference.

Main speakers included BYU’s Camille Fronk Olson, who recently stepped down as the chair of the Department of Ancient Scripture; BYU Marriott Andersen Foundation Alumni Professor Scott Summers and associate professor and Andersen Fellow David Wood; and former Olympian and current Morgan Stanley financial advisor Heather McPhie Watanabe.

A ten-year member of the United States Freestyle Ski Team who competed at the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Watanabe spoke about how working with a mental strength coach helped her achieve her dreams both in the Olympics and her career. “I am such a believer that the mind has amazing power. The saying has always been that ‘practice makes perfect,’ but we’re realizing that ‘practice makes permanent,’” Watanabe says on implementing practices to help individuals achieve their goals.

Twelve presenters spoke at the conference
Twelve presenters spoke at the conference.
Photo Courtesy of SOA Marketing.

In addition to the main speakers, twelve presenters spoke on topics ranging from developing the skill set of an ethical leader to learning how to harness artificial intelligence.

“Just like all classes students take at BYU, the conference started with something spiritual when Camille Fronk Olson taught about the Old Testament,” says accounting alumnus Stephen Udall, who traveled from Arizona to the conference. “That never happens when you go to another conference—you just jump right into accounting. Plus the quality of presenters who attend the BYU SOA conference are top level.”

The conference also featured the Women of the School of Accountancy (WSOA) Fall Banquet, a junior core reunion reception, and a tailgate party for the BYU football game on 16 November.

“Many connections and reconnections took place at this conference,” says Maroney. “The tailgate is a great tradition where alumni are able to bring their families to the football game and mix with other SOA families.”

All SOA alumni are welcome to attend the annual conference, which is held every November. Next year’s conference will be held 20 November 2020. More information regarding next year’s conference will be emailed in May. If you’d like to receive alumni news or to update your information, please go to or contact Jennifer Maroney at


Writer: Kate Monroe